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Robotics and Autonomous Systems in Offshore Wind Operation and Maintenance Services...60 Seconds with Alistair McConnell, Research Associate, University of Edinburgh

Alistair McConnell, Research Associate, University of Edinburgh

Robotics and Autonomous Systems in Offshore Wind Operation and Maintenance Services, 23 May 2019,  London
Robotics and Autonomous Systems in Offshore Wind Operation and Maintenance Services, 23 May 2019, London

Ahead of the seminar on Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) in Offshore Wind Operation and Maintenance Services, we caught up with Alistair McConnell.

Alistair explained his role and involvement with regards to the seminar, critical engineering challenges, what he is looking forward to at the event and why it is important for professionals to attend.

Q: Briefly explain your role and involvement within robotics and autonomous systems in Offshore Wind?

Alistair McConnell (AM): I am a post-doctoral research associate in the Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets HUB (ORCA). Within the ORCA HUB, I work on developing robotic sensors nodes named Limpets, which form part of a robotic sensor network. This network can be used to monitor offshore infrastructure for signs of movements, degradation and damage that would, if left unchecked, cause potential failure of the asset. The Limpet sensor is also designed to work as a robotic enabler where it can provide current situational and environmental data to any robot within its vicinity to create a safer working environment.

Q: What is the number one challenge for those using or benefitting from these technologies in today’s current market?

AM: Getting access to the exact data they need from infrastructure when they need it and dealing with the verification and certification of the robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) and the data that they produce.

Q: What is the most exciting development in this field at the moment, either within your company or in the industry in general?

AM: I have found the development of the LoRaWAN network and USMART Nano modems which allow for long range, low power and low-cost transmission of data through air and water respectively most exciting. Both communications methods have allowed for the Internet of Things (IoT) systems to be in areas previously inaccessible either due to range or cost of getting data from those locations

Q: Where do you see the future of Robotics and Autonomous Systems in Offshore Wind going in the next 5–10 years?

AM: Within ten years I would see humans being fully removed from all hazardous area entirely and robots becoming as commonplace as a smartphone in the repair and maintenance of offshore wind assets with a standardised method of data processing.

Q: What key things can attendees expect to learn from your presentation?

AM: What the ORCA project is, how did it come about and what it means for the companies in the offshore industry. Attendees will also gain knowledge of the Limpet sensor network and how it can fit into their infrastructure and what advantages it would provide.

Q: What other presentations or topics are you looking forward to hearing more about at the forthcoming seminar?

AM: I am looking forward to hearing Elizabeth Ann Traiger’s presentation on using artificial intelligence (AI) as the processing tool for data from RAS systems. Data is key to all RAS systems and how it is dealt with is crucial for analysis either by companies or academia. I am also looking forward to seeing and hearing about the development of AI powered 3D inspection for AUVs and ROVs from Iain Wallace.

Q: Why do you feel it is important for all professionals to join this seminar?

AM: The offshore industry whether wind, tidal, oil or gas are crucial to many economies around the world currently and will be well into the future. The work done by a human on monitoring, servicing and repairing the offshore infrastructure is often dangerous, and the inclusion of RAS into this process is one way in which to mitigate these dangers. This seminar will provide the knowledge of state of the art in the area of RAS in offshore wind operations and maintenance services, both from an academic and industry point of view as well and the future direction of their development. The opportunity to network with the key people in areas involved in the development of RAS in this sector cannot be underestimated either.

Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) in Offshore Wind Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Services takes place on 23 May 2019 at One Birdcage Walk, London.

Join this seminar to:

  • Hear from leading organisations about the challenges facing the delivery of Offshore Wind O&M services and opportunities for cost reduction and health and safety improvements
  • Understand how Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) can reduce OPEX and improve energy generation and health and safety
  • Learn about the latest developments in RAS applied to Offshore Wind O&M and ongoing demonstration projects
  • Meet and discuss with RAS experts including leading academic, research and test centres and end sers in the offshore wind industry
  • Ask key questions about how RAS can be applied to your specific operations and maintenance needs during the Q&A sessions following each presentation.

To book your place, please visit


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